No doubt that the most essential element to get healthy vegetables is the soil. Healthy soil gives healthy plants. It is that simple rule that is the critical element I use for growing my crops. No chemicals are added and no artificial manure. All things that fertilise the crops are provided by nature. And that is my passion in the gardens I maintain; how ravishing the soil smells attracting the fauna as insects and other micro-organismn. You don’t have to do anything about it, it comes natural. The only thing you have to do is direct it in the way you want it. Above all: keep your soil covered. Otherwise you will loose organic matter and minerals.
I happened to be the keeper of several allotment gardens in Zierikzee. Those gardens are permanently covered with crops or with white clover. And that is how I manage those thousand square meters. No need for mowing. In winter (here in the Netherlands) almost the whole mass disappears in the bottom.
If I want room for vegetables I remove the clover. The soil that comes available than can at once be used for planting or sowing. In the picture above I added some compost. Often I loosen the soil with a strong pitchfork. That simultaneously mixes the compost with the soil. Afterwards I gently covered the soil in this case with the original covering. In my opinion this could also be done in a larger scale. Farming this way only takes adaption of the farming equipment. And with the technilogical knowledge nowadays that must be a piece of cake.
Why I chose for white clover above all other plants? The picture below shows that this clover otherwise than the other types of clover makes roots on every knot. So you do not need much plants to cover your bottom. I myself like to plant the clover in the autumn instead of sowing because the germs of clover grow very slow. Every piece of the plant below which has rootes can be planted. When it comes to removing the clover the roots of white clover don’t get rigid and stay shallow. So it does not take much power to hoe the roots. And over the years the upper soil contains so much germinative seeds. Often spontaneously the open soil gets covered with a new layer of white clover. And yet we did not mention the fact that in the roots of clover – just like by all other papilionaceae – Nitrogen is produced which enriches our soil.
Gardening in this way offers me a great feeling of satisfaction. I am often rewarded with surprises like peculiar plants which only germinate on places where soil is left alone for a longer period of time. Sherardia arvensis is one of those surprises. Prodigious but for three years now established in one of my gardens!